the mail slot
by Mark Belair

after my grandfather died / our next-door neighbor / mr hurd /
a longtime friend / served as his mortician

the hurds had no children / so mrs hurd showered my older sister /
with pink satin dresses and patent-leather shoes and streamer-
strung birthday parties / all to make up for the attention / which
i sensed even then / at three / that my grandfather / having raised
two girls / bestowed on me / his only grandson

a few days after the funeral / with the silence of our family house /
absent my grandfather / ringing in my ears / i snuck next door /
opened the front door mail slot / and called for my sister / the girl
i’d always rushed to abandon / whenever my grandfather called

but no one was home / mrs hurd and my sister were either shopping /
or out to tea / while mr hurd was likely at his funeral parlor /
preparing another corpse

all i saw / was a slice of empty interior / in which an unseen
grandfather clock / chimed once / the room / after the echo died /
silent as my house

by Mark Belair

I devote a corner
to a lamp, books, and desk chair
I withdraw to
come evening, a corner
as the corner
of a boxing ring
between rounds, the hectoring world
unheard, the fighter’s focus
lost to the reviving work
done on him—the rub, the balm,
the sting.


Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals,
Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The
Cincinnati Review
, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly
, Poetry East, and The South Carolina Review.  His
latest collection of poetry is
Watching Ourselves, which was
published by Unsolicited Press in 2017.  

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 14, Number 1
(Spring 2019)

Copyright © 2019
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.